Diamond Tail Ranch
Soaring mountains, buffalo grazing in green pastures and crystal clear bubbling creeks surrounded the campsite on the Diamond Tail Ranch in northern Colorado, where the Cowboy Artists of America and special guests enjoyed the 45th annual CAA trail ride. For the fifth time Ray, Sally, Mike and Renee Duncan, along with Bill and Maggie Rey, graciously hosted the CAA artists, wives and guests. It’s hard to imagine life getting any better than riding great horses, gathering cattle, roping steers, eating gourmet beef and beans and drinking Silver Oak wine around a camp fire while listening to Red Steagall and Don Hedgpeth sing cowboy songs, unless it’s the unique honor and opportunity to participate in a authentic Native American sweat lodge ceremony, as brothers and friends.
The CA trail ride isn’t all ridin’, ropin’, draggin’ and brandin’. It’s also a time for business meetings, signing the upcoming catalog tip sheets, deciding on show publicity and making changes to the website.
Two new CAA members, Tom Browning and Paul Moore, joined in their first trail ride and discovered the essential meaning of CAA as an extended family. Back in 1965 when the four founders had the idea to gather like minded artists on cattle ranches across the American West, they knew being exposed to and enveloped by the dust, sweat and smells of authentic working cowboys would breathe life into their canvases and clays. Collectors, art shows and museum exhibitions were their dreams and goals, but the surprising and unintended consequence of the CAA trail rides was the deep and lifelong friendships which have developed among the members, ranch owners, cowboys and special guests.
Honorary members Ray and Sally Duncan, Bill and Maggie Rey, and Jody Beeler were in attendance and are an absolutely integral, continuing part of that extended CA Family. A tinge of sadness mingled with the camaraderie, tall tales and past trail ride stories, as toasts were given to remember and honor the recently deceased CA artists Fritz White, Bill Moyers and James Reynolds.
Phoenix Art Museum and Men’s Arts Council members Ari Schwartz, Steven Gragg, Kelly Whitton and 35-year special CAA friend Ruth Kaspar were in attendance, as well as Greg Brown, publisher of Cowboys and Indians Magazine, and A.J. Mangum, editor-at-large of Western Horseman. Drs. Scott and Karen Robertson, who kept everyone well and in one piece, CAA consultant Tom Pearson, and next year’s 2011 CAA trail ride hosts at the Bell Cross Ranch in Montana, Mike and Sheila Ingram and their assistants Dean and Shawn Cameron, were also among the guests.
Diamond Tail Ranch managers, Scott and Bobbi Butcher added tremendously to the great time had by all. Their hospitality gave all the CAs a real sense of the cowboy way. Scott Butcher and his young son joined CAA President Fred Fellows, Bill Owen, Bruce Greene, and Dean Cameron for a team roping event. A great time was had by all the CA wives during a tour of the ranch property, seeing a herd of buffalo, watching the team roping event and sitting around the campfire listening to the cowboy music and enjoying the fabulous food. It was the first trail ride for three new CA wives, Joyce Browning, Kim Moore and Martha Lawson who are wonderful additions to the CAA family.
Photos courtesy of Ron Riddick